Sure, the eternally spinning pinwheel is a pretty major signal your computer is about to crash, but here are a couple of quick tricks to try before you restart your Mac.

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Twenty20

GIVE IT FIVE MINUTES

This sounds basic, but click-click-clicking around while your computer is frozen and trying to think only causes more delays. Consider the pinwheel your cue to stand up, refresh your coffee/Diet Coke and see what happens. In a lot of cases, it’s all your computer needs to process something (like a too-big file) and come back to life.

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Twenty20

DISCONNECT EXTERNAL DEVICES

So you’re printing, charging your iPhone and hooked up to an external hard drive all at once. This can cause a middle-aged or elderly computer to get, err, overwhelmed. That’s where the pinwheel comes in. If you see it (and you’ve already waited five minutes), try disconnecting any USB cords hooked up to your machine. It will give your computer a lot less to process at once, which is the goal.

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Rachel Bowie

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, FORCE QUIT

Last resort: Select the program that is giving you the spinning pinwheel of death (for example, Microsoft Word) and hit Command + Option + Escape. A window should appear with an option to quit that application--and that application only. Sure, you might lose the latest round of changes in your doc (unless you have AutoRecover turned on), but you won’t lose anything else you’re working on in other programs--a technology win.

RELATED: Here’s How To Find A Lost Word Document

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